Branding lessons: Roadshows alone won’t win hearts

Guest Column: Pradeep Menon. M, Co-founder, Head - Branding & Strategy, Blackswan (India) Ideation, shares how marketers can learn reaching out to target audience from an election campaign case study

e4m by Pradeep Menon. M
Updated: May 7, 2021 8:36 AM
Pradeep Menon

Every election campaign is a case study for marketers and branding professionals as these campaigns are aimed at convincing a large target audience within a short period of time. At the end of the day, both a brand owner and a political party is trying to ‘win hearts’ by promising a value through their product/service. Verdict of the audience on state elections 2021 is out and here is an opportunity for marketers or brand owners to learn how the winner could reach out to the target audience convincingly and how the losers couldn’t do so. Different states went under elections just now. Maybe what we are going to analyze here is applicable to all the states but let us stick to one state, Kerala, to make the analysis shorter and clear.

Road shows alone won’t win hearts: ATL alone won’t bring customers

All the three major political parties carried out road shows, yathras and mass rallies for the election campaign. But what made the winner smart is that the CPM under the leadership of Pinarayi Vijayan used their entire party machinery to go to the ground level and talk directly with the voters. They meticulously went door to door convincing the voters about their proposition, replying on the spot to clear the doubts in the minds of the voters. BJP and the congress depended more on road shows and yathras and mass rallies to ‘win hearts’. Here is an important lesson for brand owners too. ATL advertising or mass advertising in mass media like TV can make your brand name register in the mind of the consumers but if you want to convert that consumer as your customer, then you have to find ways to connect with your target audience directly through BTL advertising too. All avenues including digital medium will have to be used to connect with the target audience directly, introduce the product/service proposition, reply to their genuine concerns and be interactive. ‘Winning hearts’ is what creates a loyal customer, and it is not possible through one side communication but only through interactive communication.

Brand loyalty among your employees and trade partners

Any brand to be successful has to go through different channels of participation from the brand owner, inner core of the team, partners like dealers/distributors, retailers and so on before it reaches the final customer. Only if all these channels believe in your product/ service proposition, will they promote your brand to the end consumer. The winning party in Kerala and its leader did the same with their strategy. They convinced their political partners or allies about their stand on each subject, made them believe they are one for all & all for one and at times they even corrected according to the feedback from their local partners. This resulted in creating a unified voice in their campaign and this, in turn, made clarity in communication for the voters. This is another lesson for any marketer or brand owner. You cannot go out there and sell your product/service directly to every end consumer. Your distribution channels or anyone who takes your product/service to the end consumer should be seen as your brand ambassador. To do that you have to convince them that they are a mutual partner in your success story and for that you are ready to hear them out and do any corrections if necessary.

Clarity in brand proposition

Any campaign to reach your target audience should have clarity in your campaign proposition. The more positive the campaign thought is, the more receptive the target audience will be. LDF had a very clear slogan as their proposition whereas the UDF and NDA had vague communication platforms. ‘URAPPANU LDF URAPPANU THUDARBHARANAM’ (Sure it is LDF, Sure it is continuity for LDF) was very clear about what they are asking for and it showed the confidence in their approach. ‘Naadu nannavan UDF’ (to make this place better, vote for UDF) is a vague statement that anyone can put forward and there was a need to clarify how they are going to do it. ‘modikkoppam puthiya keralam’ (new Kerala with Modi) is also a vague statement which is not clear about the campaign platform or the brand proposition. Here is another lesson for a marketer/brand owner. Be clear first in your mind about what you are going to propose to your target audience. Create campaign platforms that will motivate your target audience to buy your product/service through clarity in your campaign thoughts and stick to the campaign platforms throughout your campaign period. Communicate in different levels to your target audience on what you mean by your campaign platform and what they can expect from your proposition.

Believe in your campaign platform and stick to it

Once the LDF decided on the campaign platform to have the word “Sure” in their slogan it is interesting to note that every leader, whether from the main party of the LDF or the smallest party in the LDF, tried to use that word even in their local press meets. This is a great example of how your campaign thought can be made popular among the public. The campaign platform should be believed in by the brand owner first and should adamantly try to stick on it during the campaign period. Everyone associated with the brand should be motivated to believe in that thought and they should propagate it whenever they get a chance. A campaign platform should be created after long thoughts over it and once decided has to stick on it rather than changing it during the course of the campaign.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube